The University and College Union at Southampton University is holding a consultative ballot of its members on possible industrial action over workloads, writes Melanie Newman.
The union will ask members to choose between working to rule or a one-day strike with a boycott of institutional audit tasks.
John Perry, UCU regional officer, said: "The union is supporting a female academic member of staff who is receiving legal support to take the university to an employment tribunal for sex discrimination."
The woman had refused to accept a workload model that would deny her flexible working for childcare reasons, he added.
The UCU said it was working with other staff who had questioned their managers' right to impose a workload model that cut back on research time.
Southampton said that it would not discuss an individual's case, but insisted that its workload allocations were made in an "open and participative manner".
Staff in the School of Health Professions and Rehabilitation Services will also be balloted on industrial action in connection with "a small number" of redundancies.